Create Your Artistic Brand with Poe Tan

Published: April 05, 2017 | Author: Lola Taylor | Read Time: 3 minutes

Poe TanConcept artist and instructor Poe Tan will be presenting at the Southern Utah Museum of Art on April 13 at 7:00 p.m. for the SUU Department of Art & Design’s Art Insights series. He will discuss how to make a career in art, prepare your portfolio for review, create intellectual properties and brand yourself on the world wide web. He will also define what it means to be a Visual Development Artist and Concept Artist, including how the positions work and the pipeline of responsibilities. Admission to Art Insights is free and open to the public.

Beginning at a young age while growing up in Malaysia, Tan had the privilege of being exposed to a variety of entertainment mediums ranging from American movies and Disney cartoons to British comics and literature to Japanese manga and anime. He said, “One key moment in defining my decision to be an artist was watching Star Wars in the theatre in 1976. As I saw the opening of the movie with the Rebel Blockade Cruiser being chased by the Imperial Star Destroyer flying onto the screen, that made a huge impression on me as a 6-year-old. From there I started drawing and pursuing my goals to be a designer in animation and in the entertainment industry.”

He received his BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and MFA in Illustration and Concept Art from the Academy of Art University. He has worked for Walt Disney Animation Studios, Warner Brothers Animation, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Fox Animation, Sony and many others. Tan said, “I believe my education gave me a structural discipline to get ready for the real world, to understand and prepare for what is expected for real world scenarios.”

The inspiration for Tan’s art comes from many sources. He gathers ideas from great painters and artists like Leonardo da Vinci, JC Leyendecker, NC Wyeth and Jean Leon Gerome, as well as comic books and graphic novels artists such as Moebius, Cam Kennedy, and Mike Mignola. Postmodern and craftsman architecture, movies and industrial auto design for offroad and military vehicles are also sources of inspiration for his work.

Tan was told by his animation director in his second job that ‘you are only as good as your last drawing.’ This quote is something he will never forget. As an artist and designer, one needs to continue to grow in their skills with technology and skill advancement if they want to be the best artist they can be.

His personal artistic style has been described as solid realism mixed with Hayao Miyazaki’s style of organic design. Tan’s artistic talent has allowed him to create in a variety of production styles for shows like Johnny Bravo and Rugrats and the movie Ben 10. “The most fulfilling part of being an artist,” Tan said, “is that my designs are used and seen in animated shows and games. I enjoy it when my friends across the globe tell me they have seen my work and enjoyed the designs. I am currently working on a project that I hope will ensure my students and many others around the world can enjoy once it’s launched.”

For more information about Poe Tan, visit his artist website at

Art Insights is hosted during the fall and spring semesters by SUU’s Art & Design faculty. Students and community members meet to experience presentations and discussions by visiting artists and art educators from around the nation who share their work and insights.

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